LA Zoo Lights: The Happy Hour Experience

The after-sundown sparkle arrives with a few sips in tow.

Few people would be foolhardy enough to challenge one of the most beloved beverages of the colder months, hot chocolate.

Call it cocoa if you wish, or another variation on the sweet theme, but hot chocolate is a titan in the drinks category, especially when it comes to family-nice outdoorsy activities that take place after the sun goes night-night.

But prepare to place your cocoa-based allegiances aside for an evening at LA Zoo Lights, the annual bedazzlement ready to set the Griffith Park animal park aglow. For there are two nights in December when the tried-and-true cups of warm chocolate-y goodness will give way to distinctly adult beverages created for the 21-and-over set.

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It's the Holiday Happy Hour, a special happening created to unfold alongside the larger LA Zoo Lights extravaganza. Thursday, Dec. 8 and Thursday, Dec. 15 are the dates, and there are themes, too, including "ugly sweaters" on Dec. 8 and '60s-style attire on Dec. 15 (in honor of the zoo's founding year of 1966).

Where will you rock your garish sweaters and retro gear? At a private lounge set up for the Holiday Happy Hour, an area that'll offer attendees "complimentary hors d'oeuvres, beer, wine, and hot and cold specialty cocktails."

Which means that, yes, you may have your hot chocolate, though it will definitely be on the spirited, growns-ups-only side.

After hobnobbing in your reindeer sweater or snazzy frock, spend some time taking in the light displays around the zoo, which include water features, mega illuminated snowflakes, and a "giant illuminated snake atop LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles)," a popular feature of the festivity.

A Happy Hour entry, by the by, allows attendees to skip the line and go straight to the cocktail lounge.

It's a reminder that LA Zoo Lights is a see-it sparkler whatever your age, and whether you arrive to stroll around with a cup of hot chocolate in hand, or you want to do the socializing 'n sipping thing in the Holiday Happy Hour lounge on Dec. 8 and 15, well, you can find your track.

The incandescent presentation opens on Friday, Nov. 18 and twinkles most nights right through to Jan. 8. Do note that the residents are snoozing while the bulbs glow, so make the glow show the centerpoint of your visit. (And, of course, a hot chocolate or cocktail may be part of that, too.)

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